What the 2014 World Series Teams Can Teach Us About Social Media


By Noah Jarosh

This year, the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants are competing in what has been one of the best World Series contests that baseball has seen in recent years. Both teams have had fantastic seasons and feature their own particular set of key traits that have them seeking a championship. The success the two squads have seen can also teach us how to succeed in social media.

What the Kansas City Royals can teach us about social media:

The Kansas City Royals came out of the American League with three key strengths: speed, defense, and a shut-down bullpen.

Kansas City led all of baseball in 2014 with 153 stolen bases, 15 more than the second-place Dodgers. Players like Jarrod Dyson, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain led the charge with over 25 stolen bases each. Their blazing speed also allowed them to gain extra bags by stretching singles to doubles and doubles to triples. They didn’t hit many home runs, but there’s a certain sense of consistency in speed.

Similarly, in the fast-paced world of social media there is intrinsic value in speed. Quick responses in community management are extremely valuable; they can be the difference between having a fan or customer staying with a product and losing interest. The same goes for jumping quickly to promote a post that has gained some traction. This relates to real-time content as well: You don’t want to be the brand jumping on a trend after it’s already been overplayed.

The Royals also had a top-five defense in baseball, and arguably the best in the American League. Four players are finalists for the Gold Glove at their respective positions, and another was one of the bigger snubs for the award, handed out to the best defensive players at each position in both leagues. Defense can be key for social media as well; you never know what people will say as a comment or reply with few filters in place! Sometimes managing a Facebook page or Twitter account means being more of a customer service person. In effect, you’re playing defense to prevent customers and fans from being upset.

The third key aspect for the Royals was their bullpen, which had a 3.30 earned run average and was, again, arguably the best in the American League. Though starting pitchers and hitters get most of the credit, it’s the bullpen that is charged with locking down a game or keeping it close in the final key innings. A team that lacks a focus on their relievers risks blowing many games late. Relating this to social media, you must be sure that all aspects of a post are top-notch. A good ad with good copy will be hindered by poor imagery. A great image with solid copy won’t be seen as much without a strong promotion in place. All components must work as a team to succeed.

What the San Francisco Giants can teach us about social media:

A big key to the Giants’ success in 2014 comes from knowing that they must pay to win. Baseball is a unique sport in that there is no salary cap in place, meaning teams are permitted to spend as much or as little as they want on players. This season, the highest payroll belonged to the Los Angeles Dodgers at over $235 million. The lowest payroll belonged to the Houston Astros at $44.5 million. That’s a difference of over $190 million! It’s little wonder the Dodgers won 94 games while the Astros won just 70.

The Giants have always been willing to spend more than most other teams around the league. In 2014, they paid $154 million to their players, the seventh most in the MLB. Many major contributors to San Francisco like Hunter Pence, Mike Morse, Jake Peavy, and Tim Hudson all came in via free agency or trade where the Giants had to give up assets to acquire them. Other home-grown talent has stuck around in part because the Giants have been able to afford signing them to bigger contracts. Players in that category include Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, and Buster Posey.

While some teams can have smaller payrolls and still compete, they often will not be able to sustain success. That brings us to social media where, especially on Facebook, we continue to move toward a "pay to play" model. Advertising has become critical. Organic reach and engagement continue to falter on posts, and paid promotion has become the best way to keep that up. Brands don’t need to be the Yankees or Dodgers of social media, but being the Astros is not the way to go either.

To see consistent success on social media, one must be prepared to spend a few sawbucks. How much depends on goals, page size, etc. But in order to make much of a dent, it has become increasingly important to be willing to spend. Doing so not only creates paid reach and engagement, but will signal to Facebook that a post/page deserves more organic reach as well.

Both the Royals and Giants are great teams, as evidenced by their fantastic seasons and wonderful battle in the World Series thus far. Their success can be related to any industry, including social media!

Who are you rooting for in the World Series? Is there anything your favorite team can teach us about social media?